Today Riversleigh comprises of two former family homes, Heatherlea located at 25 Riverine Street and Riversleigh located at 1-3 Nicholson Street.

These two gracious residences were built around 1884 by R.P. Vincent Jnr. for Dr. James Duncan and Mr. Ben Johnson, a grocer.

Heatherlea was designed by “a local gentleman”, Mr. Swann and constructed at a cost of ₤2,300. It was originally known as “Wharoonga” whilst Dr. Duncan lived there, in company with his three children, Daphne, Belladonna, and Eucalyptus. Dr. Duncan with Dr. Morgan were foundation members of the medical staff of the Bairnsdale Hospital.

When several owners later, it was acquired by the Heath family Wharoonga was re-named “Heatherlea”.
Although the central staircase of “Heatherlea” has been removed, much of the original Victorian design elements remain, including the cast-iron balcony, terrazzo paving on the front veranda, the etched glass surrounding many of the doors and the magnificent ruby-glass windows which originally lit the top of the staircase.

Next-door “Riversleigh”, was also built with many of the extravagances of the Victorian era. The knobs which embellished the façade are gone but two ram’s heads remain on either side of a head on the dividing section which is believed to be a representation of the young Queen Victoria. The original cost of the two semi-detached buildings was ₤1,000.

Past residents have included professional people such as architect Harry French in No. 3 and several doctors who added a waiting room to the rear of No. 1.

These buildings are of a style unique in Bairnsdale although they are common elsewhere. They are the only true two-storied terrace houses in Bairnsdale.

Word has it that when young Eucalyptus used to live at 'Heatherlea Mansion" she used her mother's diamond ring to etch her initials & pictures of the boats sailing past in the river out the front. This is thought to have taken place about 120 years ago & it is the original glass today, still with the etching.


  The Old Wharfe